With the new year almost here, it’s time to think about what I’d like to improve in 2014. As a perfectionist, I have no problem finding things I would like to do better. Improving my health, being more productive as a writer, finding time for art projects, getting my house organized, spending more time with family and friends… the list is a long one.
As a result, I am always searching for new things to try, new approaches to old problems, looking for the silver bullet that will fix everything.
Where do I go when I need a solution to a life problem? Self-help books, of course.
I’ve read books on organization, decluttering, creative process, healthy living, and time management, in search of the one change that will result in a perfect life. Each one has promised me that everything will be better, even things completely unrelated to the issue at hand, if I just give their method or system a try.
I spent time this summer trying hard to follow a system for organizing your time, thinking it would help me to make the most of my days, as well as improve everything else. By making a schedule and following it, I would be able to do all the things I wanted to in the course of the week and make progress in all the areas I hoped to improve in. The schedule was going to be my silver bullet to solving all my life challenges.
Every time I made a schedule as suggested, however, I found it broke down as soon as I had a low energy day. (Despite great improvements in my health this year, I still have random days where I am unable to do much.) Without good health, I couldn’t make the schedule work, but I had hoped that the schedule would fix everything, even my health.
Wanting a silver bullet solution is completely human. Just go into any book store and look at the long shelves of self-help books promising to solve all your problems by addressing a single problem.
But real life is complex. Complex systems don’t get fixed with one big change. It takes little changes, applied at different times and in different areas, to make improvements that meet a range of life goals.
I’ll still be visiting the self-help section. The books there are rife with ideas that could be some of the little changes I need to make to get to the new places I want to go. But I will try not to believe that something I find there is going to be my silver bullet, because that way leads to frustration, and that’s one thing I don’t need more of.